Members Only | April 30, 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
To compel his testimony, the J6 committee paints Mark Meadows as Donald Trump’s point man in bid to overturn the election
Inside the 248-page motion to dismiss his claims of privilege.
The J6 committee filed a motion in court arguing that Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows should be compelled to testify about his role in the plot to overturn the election. The filing uses Meadows’ text messages and witness testimony to paint a detailed picture of Meadows as Trump’s insurrection point man.
Meadows was subpoenaed to testify before the J6 committee in December, but at the last minute he announced that he’d had a change of heart. In true Trumpian fashion, rather than showing up to testify, Meadows sued the committee.
There are no facts in dispute.
The committee’s exhibits are so voluminous that one suspects the investigators are taking advantage of the filing to get some shocking details into the public record.
Either Meadows has to testify or he doesn’t. Therefore, the committee asked the judge to dispense with the formality of a trial and simply rule on that question.
In their motion, the committee had to explain why Meadows’ claims of executive privilege are worthless. In order to make that case, the committee painted a detailed picture of what Meadows was up to in the weeks before the insurrection.
The record shows that Meadows coordinated with a clique of far-right members of Congress and outside operatives to hype election fraud lies and pressure the Department of Justice to validate those lies.
The affirmation of the nation’s top law enforcement agency would then be used to pressure legislatures in states that Biden won into calling themselves back into session to send fake Trump electors in place of the real Biden delegates.
The committee argues in effect that Meadows doesn’t have executive privilege because he was operating either as a campaign staffer or as a criminal, since his attempts to influence the election would constitute blatant violations of the Hatch Act if he acted as a federal official.
The 26 exhibits attached to the motion include some of the 2,319 text messages from Meadows’ personal phone that the former chief of staff had already handed over, plus excerpts from the testimony of various J6 witnesses, including Trump aide Jason Miller and Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchison.
Indeed, the exhibits are so voluminous that one suspects the committee is taking advantage of the filing to get some shocking details into the public record.
And not a moment too soon.
Hutchison told J6 investigators that Meadows schemed with a clique of far-right representatives that included US Reps. Scott Perry, Jim Jordan and Louie Gohmert. The group’s role was to identify and amplify election fraud conspiracy theories.
Armed with these baseless allegations, the clique badgered Justice Department officials to investigate and validate the claims so that they could be used to pressure state legislatures into overriding the will of the people and sending Trump electors in place of those duly pledged to Biden.
The officials found no evidence of significant fraud in any state, but Trump and his allies kept pushing. “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen,” Trump said, according to notes taken by former senior Justice Department official Richard Donoghue and shared with the Times for a story that ran last December.
Donoghue later told the J6 committee that he and his colleagues narrowly talked Trump out of firing the acting attorney general and replacing him with Jeff Clark, a toady who had never tried a criminal case, but who promised to throw the agency’s credibility behind the lies.
Meadows and Clark allegedly planned to use the fraud allegations to pressure the GOP-controlled legislatures of the Biden swing states to call themselves back into session to pick Republican electors.
The exhibits show that Meadows and his merry band of insurrectionists were big promoters of a John Eastman-esque pseudo-legal theory whereby Mike Pence could somehow send the election back to the states.
Gohmert even tried and failed to sue Pence in federal court to force him to act on a version of the Eastman plan to steal the election during the certification ceremony.
This filing sheds light on what the J6 committee has learned.
The good news is that they are getting closer to Trump, uncovering the machinations of high-level elected officials.
The bad news is that compelling members of Congress to testify will be time-consuming and difficult.
The clock is ticking for the committee.
Lindsay Beyerstein covers legal affairs, health care and politics for the Editorial Board. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, she’s a judge for the Sidney Hillman Foundation. Find her @beyerstein.